Women’s Six Nations: Female players are treated differently to men – Forsyth

Jemma Forsyth represented Scotland in the 2017 Women’s Six Nations tournament (Photo courtesy of Jemma Forsyth)

Female rugby players in the Six Nations are being treated differently to their male counterparts, according to a former Scotland women’s international.

Jemma Forsyth has claimed that women’s rugby is still not seen as equal to the men’s despite the sport’s growth in recent seasons

“While women’s rugby has grown in recent seasons, it’s still not looked at with the same sort of equality as men’s rugby,” Forsyth told EN4 News. 

“If you compared it with tennis at Wimbledon for example, women’s tennis is on TV just as much as men’s tennis is, they’ve got the same facilities, they’ll play on the same courts. Everything is exactly the same.”

The women’s Six Nations runs concurrently with the men’s tournament but matches are staged at different venues and female players often have to deal with inferior facilities and playing conditions.

“Women play in the Six Nations exactly the same as men do, the exact same dates, the exact same teams, the tournament follows the exact same structure. But you don’t get provided with the same quality of venue or the quality of changing rooms.”

Former Scotland international Jemma Forsyth spoke to EN4 News about the inequality between the men’s and women’s Six Nations tournaments


Last month there was controversy after Wales’ team were left without hot water following their Six Nations match against Ireland, while Scotland and England’s rearranged fixture, postponed due to Storm Ciara, was played behind closed doors even though the men’s match went ahead in front of a capacity crowd at Murrayfield.

The Six Nations also has the widest gender pay gap out of the UK’s biggest sporting competitions, with the winner of the men’s tournament receiving £5 million while the winner of the winning women receive nothing.

Forsyth made more than 20 international appearances for Scotland over two spells but was forced to quit because she could not balance playing rugby with a full-time job, and she said that further investment in the women’s game would help close the gap.

“Rugby is a business at the end of the day, and if they don’t see women’s rugby bringing in money then they are not necessarily going to spend the same money on women’s rugby that they would on men,” she said.

“But to counter that, if you don’t put the money in then you won’t get the same following as what the men get.

“So I think they’ve got to invest more, which I do genuinely believe Scottish Rugby has started to do. They’re definitely going in the right direction with investing more and it has started to grow, and I think it will continue to if the investment is there.”

Julie Inglis, board trustee of Scottish Women in Sport, called on rugby’s governing bodies and the Six Nations organisers to address the inequality.

“It’s quite evident that the Six Nations tournaments are being treated very differently,” Inglis told EN4 News. “Women’s rugby is not taken as seriously as it should be.”

Inglis also stressed that the problem isn’t exclusive to international rugby.

“I can’t say this for every rugby club but there are certainly many where they are treated very differently and the women are almost not taken seriously.

“There needs to be change at board level and committee level all the way through the sport.”

The Scottish Rugby Union supports up 10 female players with professional contracts. England and France are the only women’s Six Nations teams to offer professional contacts to their full squad.

Scotland play France in their third match of the campaign at Scotstoun on Saturday.

Virgin Atlantic drops mandatory make-up requirement

Today (March 8th) is International Women’s Day, a focal point in the movement for women’s rights.

Travel giant Virgin Atlantic have removed their mandatory requirement that all female cabin crew must wear make-up whilst on duty. Female cabin crew will now be offered trousers automatically, as opposed to when requested – the uniform currently features a tight, red skirt. The move sees a significant change in the airline industry, which has not been progressive when it comes to uniform.

Newer airlines such as Ryanair and EasyJet take a relaxed stance when it comes to uniform and make-up, whereas more established airlines have strict rules on what female members of staff must wear when at work.


(Credit: MercerMJ)

Virgin Atlantic have said cabin crew could now attend work without wearing make-up, but those who still wish to wear it could do so by following the companies guidelines.

Virgin Atlantic Executive Vice President of Customer Mark Anderson said:

“Our world famous red uniform is something all of us at Virgin Atlantic are incredibly proud of. As an airline, we have always stood out from the crowd and done things differently to the rest of the industry. We want our uniform to truly reflect who we are as individuals while maintaining that famous Virgin Atlantic style. We have been listening to the views of our people and as a result have announced some changes to our styling and grooming policy that support this. Not only do the new guidelines offer an increased level of comfort, they also provide our team with more choice on how they want to express themselves at work. Helping people to be themselves is core to our desire to be the most loved travel company.”

British Airways gave female staff the option to wear trousers in 2016, but still requires them to wear make-up.

The reaction on Twitter has been positive, with many praising Virgin Atlantic for bringing their guidelines into the 21st Century. Journalist Jess Brammar said: “Female cabin crew working for Virgin Atlantic are no longer required to wear make-up, the airline has announced. Which, you know, shouldn’t feel like an exciting step forward as it’s TWENTY NINETEEN, but it does.”

How Scotland’s feminist organisation is fighting for 2019 to be our most equal year yet


In 2018, the idea that anyone should be denied rights or opportunities because of their gender seemed truly ridiculous. 

But, following the #metoo movement which dominated the mass media last year, women across the world are becoming more aware of inequality and how it affects them on a daily basis.  

In Scotland, changes are being made to reduce and remove the social and economic barriers faced by both women and men across the country. The ​Equality Act of 2010​ ​brought together existing equality legislation and paved the way for increased focus on inequality relating to a vast array of categories from age to disability and gender reassignment.

Engender is Scotland’s feminist membership organisation that specifically has a vision for the country to become a society in which men and women have equal opportunities in life, equal access to resources and power, and are equally safe from harm. 

Ayls Mumford, the communications and engagement manager of Engender, explains what actions the organisation is taking to fight inequality in Scotland. 

“Engender works on every issue of women’s equality and tries to make changes to improve the lives of women and girls in Scotland. 

“We’re mainly a policy organisation, so we do research, write briefings, and try to influence parliament and legislation — but we also host events and talks to groups across the country and really try to spread the word of women’s equality,” Alys explains at the start of the interview. 

Engender works on a whole range of issues because — as Alys herself puts it – “once you start looking at the world you realise that every issue is an issue of women’s inequality because we live in a patriarchal society.” 

A few years ago, Engender held a vast consultation process called ‘Gender Matters’ where Alys and her team met with women and girls around Scotland to uncover what prevalent issues were affecting women at the time. 

The organisation then launched its ‘Gender Matters Road Map’ which sets out a series of suggestions for the Scottish Government and other bodies how to move towards greater women’s equality by 2030. 

The plan was developed in collaboration with female activists across Scotland, the women’s sector and wider stakeholders, and is divided up into ten key areas aimed to target all aspects of inequality, of which one key focus is that of social security. 

Since austerity took over in the UK, 86% of cuts come from women’s incomes and, considering women are twice as dependant on social security as men, it’s clearly an issue that disproportionately affects women. 

“One thing we’ve been working really hard on is the idea of offering individual payments in universal credit, and this is a really good example of feminist policy work because it seems like a really tiny thing, but it would have a massive impact,” Alys says. 

Universal credit combines separate social security entitlements into one household payment rather than giving it to individuals in a household. 

“In most households in Scotland that would go to the man which obviously undermines the idea of equality and the idea of social security entitlements which are meant for particular people. But it’s also particularly damaging obviously for women who are in abusive relationships or have controlling partners – it removes all access to independent finances,” she says. 

Thanks to the work of Engender, the Scottish parliament pledged to implement default independent payments for social security: a massive step for women and their ability to participate in public life in Scotland on the same basis as men. 

Simultaneously, Engender works on decriminalising abortion. 

“Abortion still sits within criminal justice rather than health and that’s because the law has carried on from the UK, so the recent devolving of powers has been a great opportunity for Engender to discuss how and why abortion is a fundamental women’s right,” Alys explains. 

It is organisations such as Engender that really bridge the gap between women and issues such as inequality, allowing us to access the right information and begin making the moves that can ultimately abolish inequality in Scotland. 

When asked about the current state of equality in Scotland, and if we have much further to go in achieving an equal society, Ayls has the most realistic of opinions. 

“I think we still have a really long way to go when it comes to equality in Scotland, but what’s really exciting is that there are more and more people getting it and getting involved,” Alys says. 

“There’s still an awful lot of work to be done to deepen our understanding of inequality — in that it’s not just about different genders, but also white women having more privilege than women of colour, than trans women, than disabled women – and realising that if we’re not fighting for equality for all women, we’re not fighting for equality at all.”  

%d bloggers like this: